Not so long ago, many obstetricians advised their pregnant patients to avoid physical exercise, but that has changed, and today we report a research study that presents another good reason for pregnant women to keep active.
Researchers at the University of Montreal (Canada) just presented their study conclusions at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, and unlike previous studies that were mostly done on pregnant rats, the Montreal study was done with actual pregnant women and their newborn babies.
The study design was simple. A group of healthy pregnant women (none of whom were regular exercisers) just entering their second trimester were randomly split into two groups. One group was instructed to begin aerobic exercise for at least 20 minutes, three times per week, at moderate intensity. They were asked to exercise to the point that resulted in at least slight shortness of breath; most jogged or walked briskly.
The other half of the women did not exercise. The entire group of women—the exercise group and the non-exercise group—delivered healthy babies and when the babies were 8 to 12 days old, the mothers brought the children in for sophisticated brain testing.
The researchers placed a number of soft electrodes on the babies heads (see photograph), and, while the babies slept in their mother’s lap, the researchers played a series of sounds in the babies’ ears, and the electrodes recorded their brain responses.
They found that the babies of the mothers in the exercise group had more mature brains than the non-exercise babies. The researchers believed these babies with more mature brains might develop speech faster than the babies with sedentary mothers, and they are continuing the research on these same babies to see how they do over the longer term.
Exercise has been noted to improve brain function in adults, so these results are not terribly surprising. In adults, aerobic exercise releases a chemical called “brain-derived neurotropic factor” which stimulates development of new brain cells, and improves the connections between the cells.
One of the Montreal researchers, Labonte-LeMoyne concluded:
“If a woman can be physically active during her pregnancy, she may give her unborn child an advantage, in terms of brain development”. Another of the researchers, Daniel Curnier, noted:
“Being sedentary increases the risks of suffering complications during pregnancy, and being active can ease post-partum recovery, make pregnancy more comfortable and reduce the risk of obesity in the children.”
So if you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about how much physical activity is ok for you. This study gives another reason for most pregnant women to keep active during their pregnancies, which should be good for both mother and child.
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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)